Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

From COVID-19 testing to MHS GENESIS support, lab techs do it all

Military health personnel wearing a face mask using a blood analyzer machine Immunohematology is just another word to a laboratory technician…Hospital Corpsman 1st Class KC Geisler, Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Bremerton Laboratory leading petty officer, purviews an anti-body panel at their blood bank analyzer during a normal high operational-tempo morning (Photo by: Douglas Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Even though April 18-24, 2021 is designated as Medical Laboratory Professional Week, for laboratory technicians like Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class KC Geisler, there's no slow down or reduction of service taking place during the week.

Geisler, assigned to Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Bremerton as the laboratory leading petty officer, readily affirms that his lab is central to all health-care provided at the command.

"As a laboratory professional we organically see almost every single patients either through getting their blood drawn or through their specimen(s) that are dropped off to the laboratory," said Geisler.

To describe what lab techs do, Geisler chose a famed fictional detective to illustrate their importance and provide context.

"Laboratorians are the Sherlock Holmes of the medical field. We help to identify cancers and disease through testing and have to ensure that the results that we put out are accurate. Providers depend heavily on the results that we give them so that they can better treat their patient," Geisler said. "To put it simply, providers cannot function without us. Without laboratory results it makes it that much harder to pinpoint that disease or affliction that a patient may have. Yes they could treat the symptoms but without that result to re-enforce their diagnosis, the patient wouldn't be able to get the right quality care that they need."

For 2020, there were approximately 699,500 tests conducted by the Core Lab, including hematology, urinalysis, coagulation, blood bank, point-of-care testing, microbiology and cytology/histology. There were another approximately 36,155 tests conducted at the NMRTC Bremerton Detachment Puget Sound Naval Shipyard lab, approximately 25,535 at the Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Unit Bangor lab and approximately17,750 at the NMRTU Everett lab. Three blood drives also collected 120 units.

Providing timely and direct support for COVID-19 testing has become the lab focal point over the past year, and has only added to the routine high operational-tempo of the staff.

"The laboratory became the gateway of all COVID-19 testing in our immediate region. The laboratory had to step up and tackle the pandemic head on with no reduction in schedules. When USS Nimitz was tasked to deploy last year, all of our staff came in over the weekend to order over 4,000 COVID-19 diagnostic tests, coordinate logistics, processing, shipping and DOD testing to support getting the carrier underway for deployment as scheduled," Geisler said.

Lab staff also took part in providing approximately 5,750 COVID swab tests for Marine Corps Security Force Battalion, Bangor; and approximately 4,250 COVID swab tests for Submarine Group Nine commands.

"When we receive the COVID samples we have to make sure that the sample is correct and acceptable for testing before tested or sent for reference studies," added Geisler. "Our microbiology bench received and validated four FDA approved infectious disease diagnostic analyzers to test COVID-19 and respiratory panels as well as another molecular testing system that can handle 400 COVID tests a day.

"With the implementation of those analyzers, the wait time for COVID-19 results went from three to seven days to mere hours. The efforts of the lab have helped to identify patients that have been infected with COVID-19, which has been instrumental in the care and further precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19," explained Geisler.

The lab team is comprised of two officers, two pathologists, 27 enlisted personnel and 11 civilians. The majority of young Sailors have arrived at NMRTC Bremerton for their first duty station. Their training and understanding of their chosen specialty, as well as work-ethic, has continually been put to the test during every conducted test.

"Our preparedness comes from rigorous training and the constant need to perform daily checks to ensure that everything runs smoothly in the laboratory," Geisler stated. "Most of the techs that we receive are straight from lab school. They have a huge responsibility on their shoulders as soon as they set foot in the laboratory, perhaps more so than any other department in the hospital. They all have done a phenomenal job. I am very proud of them!"

Along with all their in-house lab efforts, NMRTC Bremerton also sent two staff to assist with the collection and testing of COVID samples on Guam in response to fleet concentration outbreaks. Another lab officer was sent to augment U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka to assist with conducting PCR (polymerase chain reaction) COVID testing and facilitate management procedural changes there and at Branch Health Clinic Iwakuni.

The DOD's new electronic health record, MHS GENESIS, has been the second major focus for laboratory staff. The command supported the rollout of the new system along the west coast. Staff went on temporary assigned duty to provide subject matter expert assistance at Naval Health Clinic Lemoore, Branch Health Clinic Fallon, NMRTC 29 Palms and six clinics, Naval Branch Health Clinic Port Hueneme, and 13 small outlying clinics of NMRTC Pendleton.

NMRTC Bremerton's Laboratory has been fully accredited by the College of American Pathologists, American Society for Clinical Pathology and American Association of Blood Banks. It is also licensed and the Food and Drug Administration.

You also may be interested in...

DHA-PI 6205.01: Medical Logistics Guidance for the DoD Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (n), establishes the Defense Health Agency's (DHA's) procedures for ordering, receiving, and managing COVID-19 Vaccines inventory and ancillary kits.

DHA-IPM 20-004: Department of Defense (DoD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation

Policy

This Defense Health Agency (DHA) Interim Procedures Memorandum (IPM), based on the authority of References (a) through (d), and in accordance with the guidance cited in References (e) through (aa), establishes the DHA’s procedures to implement instructions, assign responsibilities, and prescribe procedures for the COVID-19 Vaccination Program. This DHA-IPM applies to DHA, DHA Components (activities under the authority direction, and control of the DHA), Military Departments (MILDEP), and the United States Coast Guard (CG). This DHA-IPM cancels and replaces DHA-IPM 20-004, “Department of Defense (DoD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation,” December 13, 2020.

TAB A MEO COVID19 Medical Coding Policy

Policy

Memorandum for DHA Staff - Military Medical Treatment Facilities to Implement Updated DHA COVID-19 Medical Coding Policy

  • Identification #: N/A
  • Date: 3/25/2021
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Coronavirus

DHA COVID19 Medical Coding PolicyV5 1v

Policy

Establishes the DHA procedures to standardize the coding for Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) within military medical treatment facilities (MTFs). This memorandum replaces DHA-Policy Memorandum 20-003 of July 1, 2020. Attachment 1 was updated to include the 2021 procedure and diagnosis codes for COVID-19, including the new vaccination and treatment codes.

  • Identification #: 20-003
  • Date: 3/25/2021
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Coronavirus

Supplemental Guidance for Providing DoD Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccines to DoD Contractor Employees and Select Foreign Nationals

Policy

This memorandum provides supplemental guidance on the provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, in accordance with reference (a). The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is the lead coordinating DoD Component for executing this guidance, in coordination with the Military Departments and other DoD Components as appropriate.

HA Guidance for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Laboratory Pre-Testing Questionnaire

Policy

This memorandum provides guidance for a COVID-19 laboratory pre-testing questionnaire that will be mandatory for all Active Duty Service members and encouraged for all other DoD beneficiaries treated at military medical treatment facilities.

Executive Order on Ensuring Access to United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines

Policy

This EO outlines who should receive priority access to COVID-19 vaccines developed in the United States or procured by the United States Government (“United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines”).

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccine Guidance

Policy

This memorandum provides guidance on the provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is the lead coordinating DoD Component for executing this guidance, in coordination with the Military Departments and other DoD Components.

DHA-AI 3020-01: Return to the Workplace Staffing Plan in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Environment

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Administrative Instruction (DHA-AI), based on the authority of References (a) through (b) and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (z3), establishes the Defense Health Agency's (DHA) plan to return to full operations and support the whole-of-government response, during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This DHA-AI also provides a preventive plan to monitor and assess for the appearance of new cases and implement those processes that will prevent them from impacting the workforce. The processes describe herein are intended to offer an actionable plan for the workforce to re-enter DHA Administrative Offices. See Appendix 1 for a summary of the DHA Administrative Office Reopening Plan. The plan uses the Force Health Protection Guidance and Health Protection Conditions (HPCON), in accordance with Reference (d), to ensure protection for the workforce, including the most vulnerable-to-serious complications from the virus while enabling DHA Administrative Offices to continue its mission. See Appendix 2 for the conceptual HPCON framework.

  • Identification #: 3020-01
  • Date: 11/3/2020
  • Type: Administrative Instructions
  • Topics: Coronavirus

DHA AI 3020.01: Return to the Workplace Staffing Plan in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Environment

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Administrative Instruction (DHA-AI), establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) plan to return to full operations and support the whole-of-government response, during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and in preparation for regression or resurgence in COVID-19 cases that could impact the workforce.

  • Identification #: DHA AI 3020.01
  • Date: 6/12/2020
  • Type: Administrative Instructions
  • Topics: Coronavirus
Showing results 1 - 10 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.